Amidst reports that the Gulf of Mexico oil spill may be twice the size estimated two weeks ago, it’s been revealed that a multimillionaire House Republican (who happens to own thousands of shares of BP stock) is a key player in the congressional investigation of the spill.
It doesn’t take a genius to see that this is a significant conflict of interest.
Rep. James Sensenbrenner, who represents the wealthiest district in Wisconsin, has openly chastised President Obama for threatening to prosecute BP in court but avoided directly criticizing BP for the spill itself.
What the Congressional committee “finds” with regard to negligence preceding the spill, and the way Capitol Hill votes on this issue could directly affect Sensenbrenner’s investments in the oil company. But, under House rules, he is not required to recuse himself from BP-related issues, Melanie Sloan, executive director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, told the AP.
Apparently, House rules only prohibit such lawmakers from being involved with a bill “in which the lawmaker is the only one in which he or she has an interest.”
(Note: If you figure out a way to interpret that statement in plain English, feel free to share it in the comments!)
If nothing else, Sensenbrenner’s presence (and refusal to leave) the spill probe committee rattles the confidence of those who hoped that the U.S. Attorney General’s announcement of both criminal and civil investigations would actually hold those responsible for this environmental disaster accountable to the fullest extent of the law.
It’s worth noting, however, that in 2005, Sensenbrenner — over the objections of BP — voted in favor of a ban on oil and gas drilling in the Great Lakes.
Meanwhile, U.S. Geological Survey Director Marcia McNutt told reporters that BP’s first “successful” attempt to slow the flood of oil from the severed underground pipe is only collecting a fraction of what’s escaping into the ocean.
“The lowest estimate that we’re seeing that scientists think is credible is about 20,000 barrels, and the highest we’re seeing is probably a little over 40,000, and maybe a little bit more,” depending on how much natural gas is also being released from the well, McNutt said.
As a comparison, the new figures mean that BP’s first successful attempt at containing the oil, a suction tube inserted into the riser pipe, collected at most only about one day’s worth of the leaking oil over the nine-day period it was used (NoLa.com).
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Find full Care2 Coverage of the Spill here.
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